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What to Know About Raised Toilet Seats

Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on July 08, 2022

Raised toilet seats are a special type of equipment designed to elevate the height of the average toilet. While they can be very useful for people with mobility problems, not all insurances cover their purchase. Furthermore, there is more than one type of elevated toilet seat, making it challenging to pick the right one. Here's what you need to know. 

What Is a Toilet Seat Riser?

A raised toilet seat is a small piece of equipment that goes on top of a toilet bowl to increase its height. They are usually used by people who may have trouble sitting down in seats that are as low as a toilet, such as older people. Toilet seat risers come in various heights, but most range from 2 to 6 inches.

Most elevated toilet seats are universal, meaning that they will fit both round and oval-shaped toilet bowls. However, there are a few variations regarding how they are locked into the toilet and whether or not they have arms.

Here are the three most popular types of raised toilet seats: 

Bubble-type raised toilet seat. These are the most common type of elevated toilet seat. They provide a quick and easy solution because they are fairly easy to install. They don't come with locks or hand grips, so to install them, you only have to place them over the bowl opening and press down.

Raised toilet seat with lock. Some elevated toilet seats come with either a lock or an adjustment knob. Thanks to these mechanisms, you can ensure that the toilet seat will fit nicely into the bowl — however, they can be more complicated to install. Most require either adjusting bolts to the seat or tightening an adjustment knob.

Adjustable-height raised toilet seats. While usually more expensive, some raised toilet seats allow you to control the height. This is done through clamps that go on the side of the toilet, which you can adjust higher or lower depending on your preference. Still, much like locked raised toilet seats, they may be more complicated to install. 

Another important thing to keep in mind while shopping for an elevated toilet seat is whether it has hand grips. Also called arm supports, these can be beneficial to people who need to use their upper body strength to sit down safely. However, hand grips aren't designed to fully support your weight and should be used with care.

What Are Raised Toilets Used For?

Most toilets are lower than a chair, which often causes unnecessary difficulties for people with mobility issues. Elevated toilet seats solve this problem by raising the height of the toilet and even providing hand bars in some cases.

Usually, older people are the ones who will find raised toilet seats most beneficial, as aging often causes sarcopenia. Sarcopenia refers to gradual muscle and strength loss, which often results in a loss of mobility

Other conditions may also call for an elevated toilet seat, including:

Does Insurance Cover Raised Toilet Seats?

Sadly, not all insurances cover raised toilet seats — even if you need them due to mobility-related conditions. You'll have to ask your provider for the exact information regarding their stance.

If you find that your insurance doesn't cover elevated toilet seats, don't be afraid to ask which other toileting equipment it covers. Sometimes, insurance will cover equipment such as seat lifts or, more commonly, commodes.

Commodes are a special type of portable toilet without a flushing mechanism, as they aren't connected to any plumbing. Not only are they usually taller than a toilet, but they are also created for moving around the house, allowing you to leave them near the bedroom at night. Furthermore, you might be able to remove the bowl to create an improvised raised toilet seat.

Where Can I Buy a Raised Toilet Seat? How Do I Take Care of It?

Raised toilet seats are sold in many places, ranging from home supply stores to retail drugstores. It might be wise to talk with your insurance first to check whether you need to buy them at a particular location. If this isn't the case, try searching for elevated toilet seats at: 

  • Online retailers
  • Supercenters
  • Medical supply stores and websites
  • Drugstores
  • Home supply stores

Once you buy your elevated toilet seat, you must ensure a proper installation, as this equipment will be supporting most of your body weight. If you have a mobility-related condition, it might be best to ask for help with installation. In particular, make sure the seat doesn't tip forward or to the side.

After installing it, you'll have to check how tight it is every week, as elevated toilet seats with locking mechanisms often go loose. When it comes to cleaning, use detergent with warm water on a non-abrasive cloth. Also, while cleaning, it's a good idea to check for cracks and make sure the foam hand grips are secure.

What Else Can I Do to Make My Bathroom More Accessible and Safe?

The bathroom is a particularly dangerous place, as combining water with ceramic furniture can pose a great danger in the event of a fall. If you find that elevated toilet seats are useful for you, it might also be a good idea to consider other mobility-related modifications. For example, you could try:

  • Installing grab bars to help you move around
  • Placing a shower chair in the bathtub
  • Changing the showerhead for a handheld one
  • Replacing faucets with single-lever controls

No matter the condition or what equipment your insurance covers, being safe and comfortable in the bathroom is a crucial aspect of dealing with mobility loss. If you’re unsure regarding whether or not you need any of these modifications, make sure to check with a doctor to clear any doubts. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Aging in Motion: “What is Sarcopenia?”

Beaumont: “Back, Spine, and Neck Mobility.”

Canadian Red Cross: “Raised Toilet Seat.”

Department of Human Services: “Bath and Toilet Equipment.”

Medicare.org: “Does Medicare Cover Bathroom Safety Devices?”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “About Durable Medical Equipment: Toilet Accessories.”

North Dakota: “Durable Medical Equipment Manual.”

The Institute for Mobility and Longevity: “Conditions Affecting Mobility.”

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: “Tips on making a home more accessible without major construction.”

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